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Who Needs a Mentor, When You Can Have Your Own Posse?

Most lawyers are advised that finding a good mentor is the key to success.  And indeed, the legal profession has, more or less, bought into this concept.  Some large firms assign mentors to new associates, while a handful of bar associations have created mentoring programs to provide guidance to solo practitioners.  Yet, while the mentor concept sounds great in theory, in reality, most mentoring relationships falter for a variety of reasons.  Though well intentioned, mentors don't always have the time to help new lawyer along, or they try to force the mentee to take the same steps they did, even though that path may not be a good fit.  And sometimes mentees feel uncomfortable imposing on their mentors' time, and after a while, they let the relationship wither.

So what's the solution?  Instead of finding a mentor, why not, as Peter Smith of Ad Arguendo suggests, round up a posse?  No, he's not talking about calling up a group of cattle ranchers to round up the horse thieves.  Rather, he's referring to today's colloquial meaning of "posse" -- a group of folks with whom you surround yourself for personal support, or in the case of the workplace, to help you meet your career goals.  As Smith explains:

[W]hat all of us need, at every stage of our careers, is a group of people that we can rely on to listen to our problems, be a sounding board, and perhaps share with us some war stories. The relationship, while set up to be of benefit to you without strings, should be collaborative. The point is that you are eliciting comments from a number of people that you trust and putting it all together to come up with good decisions. You are not in the relationship to be spoon-fed by one well-meaning "elder." You are building a network of trusted advisors that enjoy being a part of a team-your team.

Smith's post offers further advice on how to create your own posse (and of course, you don't have to use that term when you're rounding one up though personally, I like the cutting edge sound of the term).

What techniques -- mentoring or the posse approach -- have helped you most in advancing your career and providing the support you need?  Send your comments below.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on October 15, 2008 at 11:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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